Embrace Me

January 12, 2013

I am your new art festival customer.

I saunter down the aisles and pretend not to see what is on either side. Why? Because I don’t know what the hell I am looking at. Many of the shows have determined that I should be at their show. Me and my old lady – along with 19,998 other people like us make for a very enticing promotional photo to show just how big and important the event is for everyone connected with the show – not just you artists.

Granted there may be about 4 or 5 hundred people at the show who are bona fide, authentic, real art patrons – but I am your new customer.  Even though I don’t know the difference between Right Guard and “avant garde” – I care even less because there is something at this show for everyone. I am your new customer and I am always right because the customer is always right.


I care not whether all your damn art is real or not. I’m not going to buy it. I’m just here because my old lady said we are going. I have no interest in buying it. I am suspicious of you because you put about $6.00 worth of paint on a $25 canvas and you expect me to buy it for $250. No way. I’ll spend all day detailing my truck, or I’ll buy something I understand.  I’ll spend $250 on concerts, sports, drugs, booze, a lousy movie, and maybe a good steak dinner before I’ll ever buy a piece of art.

I like to show up at the shows that have a little something for everyone and bring my kids. I don’t want to show them any art, I just want the family court judge to know I’m a good parent because I took them to a real live art show on “my” weekend. Don’t tell me about your art work, I have a disastrous child support payment I have to make each month, otherwise we would not be here – we’d be at a museum. I am just here to walk the kids around and look at stuff until I take them to the Target parking lot out by the interstate for their mother and her loser boyfriend of the month to pick them up a half hour late.

Yes I am your art fair customer. I parade my pathetic dog “Whizzer” past those white booths all damn day. It doesn’t matter to me if the sun beats down all day and the pavement becomes a griddle iron for Whizzer’s swollen paws that are supported only by his thrice-burned, ballooned out pads and his feeble brain can only think of water and nothing else. Four hours earlier when Whizzer could still produce urine – he whizzed on a tent. I don’t know why the artists get upset, I am the new customer after all and besides, doesn’t the show provide the white tents anyway? Damn artists are so temperamental and entitled.

The shows sought me out. I am the new art festival customer. I show up because the show said there would be lots of refreshments, free parking, stiltwalkers, a free concert, and free fireworks! I just wish all these art booths weren’t in the way – but it is kind of nice to see something affordable: $20 handmade garden stakes made in China! (Jackpot!!) I like to buy one or two that look like hummingbirds or maybe some kind of Bronze Age weaponry and walk around the show tempting potential mayhem with each step. My lack of concern for the safety of others at the show as I walk around with the crap I buy is matched only by my own horrid taste in art that can be forgiven. Forgiven because I know not of which I see.

I bring my camera to the shows. I walk the show with it strapped around my neck. I ignore seeing most show photographers avoiding me and I ask them what kind of camera they use. I poke and prod for more information: f-stops, aperture, filters, film or digital – you know, all that technical stuff only us professional photographers would know. I am the new customer at the art shows. When the photographers stop talking to me, I stand in the booths of the painters and printmakers and shoot photographs of their work. I stand with an astonished look on my face when asked to stop. How dare they? Their art work was in the public view – why can’t I photograph their work? Doesn’t matter. It’s a free country. Their work isn’t that good anyway. Maybe I shall be able to haggle with a potter or a jeweler for giggles.


A couple of the “new customers” working my booth. Sigh.

I love to come to the shows just to look down my nose at the artists. I’ve been getting my ass bitchslapped at my worthless job all week – and now I am the play-caller. I get to walk into 140 tents and demand premium attention from all these artsy-types because they think I might buy something from them. I can walk in and demand they explain their artistic vision and their use of materials and all that kind of crap and look: they answer me and talk to me for as long as I will let them. The best part is: they all give that same look when I thank them for sharing their work at the show before I stroll out of their little boutiques. I am their new customer. They need to get used to me.

I am the new art festival customer. I don’t buy art. I buy $9 glasses of cheap wine and walk around with my husband critiquing what the artists had the nerve to bring as if I had even one iota of class in my entire body and one half an iota of knowledge regarding art. The drunker I get, the less I know – but the louder and more obnoxious I become. I can’t just walk on by, I have to share what little I know with everyone – whether they want to hear it or not. My husband’s job is to stand in the aisle and adamantly shake his head “no” whenever I hold up something for him to see and consider.

I am your new art festival customer. My parents have no clue as to how to parent me and bring me to run unbridled in your booth rather than in the alley behind our tenement. Sometimes they hug me tight while looking at one of your paintings and declare that I can paint better than you. They love to tell you about my art classes and my natural talent while I re-arrange your display rack and switch around your price tags. My siblings and I love to play tag in your tent while our parents are in the beer tent. We are extremely verbal, cute, and the center of our parents’ world – so we get to do as we please. Keep your sharp looks to yourself, as you can see – we will never care about anyone other than ourselves, so don’t bother.

I am your new art festival customer. I come to the show to see who I may see while I am at the show. Usually I will block the front of your booth while talking about the oncological woes of some mutual acquaintance who is expecting some results of blood work on Monday with a friend they haven’t seen in “just ages”. I make sure to speak loud enough that everyone is uncomfortable hearing about tumors and their various associated personal accidents all while in front of your booth. Even better, I prefer to have a family reunion in front of your booth – those tables by the food booths are just too damn far away, so don’t even think of asking us to move. You are lucky we chose your booth anyway. I will always matter more than you.

Get used to me.

I am your new art fair customer. The shows want me and my kind to be at the show you paid to apply for and then paid again to set up within. I do not care if you come back next year or not. I will not give a damn if artists stop applying to the show. I will not give a damn if the spaces left by artists are taken up by fakes, buy/sell merchants, production houses, importers, and copycats. I’ll eventually stop coming, but not this year. This year I am going to ignore the artists and buy some worthless crap from some worthless vendor who is an expert salesman rather than a professional artist. I won’t care if the real artists are at the shows or not. I will never notice the real art fair patrons have left as well. I’m at the show for the free concert anyway.

I am your new art festival customer. But don’t forget – I don’t buy art. I enter the booths and announce to everyone within earshot that I have ABSOLUTELY no more room for any kind of art whatsoever in my home because I have purchased so much art that I have NO MORE room for any kind of art. No, not even if I got a double-wide trailer, I just simply have no more room for art, but thank you for sharing.

Yes, I am your new art festival customer. The art festivals have sought me out. I am needed. Without me, they cannot prove the show indeed rocked. Without me and my kind, only a few hundred authentic buyers and real patrons will show up. I’m not going to buy art, but I’ll be there – you need me. The shows say so.

I am your new art festival customer! Unlike your authentic patrons, the shows don’t care about your sales and neither do I. But remember, I am always right because I am your new art festival customer.

Embrace me!


Learn more:  http://nationalartistsadvocacyinstitute.wordpress.com 


17 Responses to “Embrace Me”

  1. artmoscow said

    Very bitter, but very funny ) Yet, you know, for each type of customer you described there’s a solution.

    people boasting about “no space” are killed by “how much has you collection risen in value in the last five years”. And regardless of their answer: “no, it couldn’t, wrong math. Can you tell me which artwords grew most”. You’d enjoy their faces.

    People with negative attitude are killed by sticking a poster in front of them with a math formula (some fancy-named theorem from higher branches of mathematics) with the text “You can see it. You can read it. You can’t understand it. Yet, this is a great piece of science.” You do it silently and take it off when these people go away. You’d love their reddened faces.

    There are ways to enjoy these new art fair customers )

  2. Dude, once again……… LMAO and you nailed it! I see this person(s) EVERY time. One day, they will hopefully read this- and see THEMSELVES.

  3. Brilliantly depressing. Surely there must be a silver lining somewhere. The trick has always been to separate the wheat from the chaff.

  4. Alex Klenke said

    I love reading about being an artist from the perspectives of my artists friends. Same with my professional musician friends telling me about shady bar owners and flaky singers. I can tell you about folks having me out on a Friday night to spend hours designing their dream kitchen before I find out they are currently bankrupt. Sigh. My dream is to one day be an art patron again. I’d shift some art around to find a space.

    • Love hearing from you Alex! The piece is actually a backhand at shows that don’t understand the art market. Some people will never be patrons and some always will be. There are two kinds of people: those who love art and the other kind is everyone else. You love art- everyone that knows you has to know that. Are you playing somewhere tonight? If so, have a great time!

  5. joseph farmer said

    Hey Munks,
    How big was the dog that left that wet spot in front of your booth?

  6. Carla Bank said

    Brilliant… just brilliant! Ha Ha

  7. Lorie Macdonald said

    You nailed this one. Just prior to reading this I happened to be reading reviews of art fairs on yelp from these very customers. One said ” you don’t have to buy the art….neat stuff to look at…. Think of it as an art museum with no admission charge.” Or this next insightful review ” these are rare occasions to take advantage of the funnel cakes”

  8. Amy M said

    Wow. I’m really scared to apply to my first art show. Recently went to one (I don’t like crowds–ha!), and yes, I saw all the people you referred to. And I’ll admit, I was one of those ‘just looking’ people. But I was genuinely looking at and enjoying the art and talking to the artists. I just couldn’t afford to buy anything…maybe because I’m an artist.

    • The point of this piece is how much the “something for everyone” mentality pushed by some of the bloated and expensive circus shows is watering down the experience for true patrons and artists alike. It’s about art and sales- you will probably understand this concept better after you do your first show.

  9. One man talked for hours to the next booth, then said to me, I bet they all boycotted you. I was able to honestly say, No, I sold a few. He looked stunned.

  10. belmonili said

    Oh, it’s funny because it’s so true! Bravo!

  11. I’ve just filled out a couple thousand dollars worth of applications, don’t remind me.

  12. Louise said

    Great, but I didn’t know you were with us for a few shows:-). Hit it clear! Ours was a dog fight in front of the booth. Thanks!

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